27th February: Day Four:
Dawn did not really arrive, so much as blearily poke its head from under the duvet and climb back under. It was grey and breezy with moisture in the air and a noticeable drop in temperature. We were packed up and on the road by 9.30 and after a provision stop at Lidls we headed for the hills with a single Swallow to remind us that March was not far away...
The dive west on the Ma10 was superb and certainly one of the best mountain roads I have driven. It was only disappointing that the weather had closed in with persistent sleet and descending cloud base. There were almost no cars and only hardy lycra clad cyclists to negotiate on the climb. Robins, Song Thrushes, Chaffinches, Blackbirds, a couple of Redwing and even Hawfinches flew up from the verges as we passed by but there were very few places to pull over.
Eventually I found one and as we pulled into a deserted picnic area a Crossbill flew up from a puddle. The stinging sleet was teeming down now but Barry and I still had an explore amongst the boulder strewn evergreen oak woodland. Hawfinches were calling all around and occasionally showing well and a flock of 40 bounded over. Crossbills were vocal from a pine but remained out of view and Goldcrest and Blue Tit also added themselves to the trip list.
I was a little worried about the sleet turning to snow before we had reached the top and the reservoirs so we pushed on. The views were occasionally revealed and at last a layby allowed a scan around. It was a shear drop to woodland below that echoed to the sound of countless singing Song Thrushes and a single Griffon soared at eye level over the adjacent cliffs with the sea in te background fading in and out of view.
|Griffon's eye view with the sea beyond|
|Griffon - such majestic birds|
A couple of bends further on we drove under an old aqueduct and pulled over for a coffee at an otherwise deserted roadside establishment. A hot brew was most welcome as it was now bitterly cold. Two Firecrests called and Ravens kronked overhead. Two Vultures appeared of the next ridge – one each of Griff and Black. There is something about distant vultures that is almost more impressive that having them close. They still look huge and command the sky and made a Red Kite closer to us look quite tiny.
|Black Vulture country just before the tunnel into Gorg Blau|
|Black Vulture over that distant ridge|
|While this one came a little closer from the west|
Through a tunnel and out we popped at the Panta de Gorg Blau with a suitable car park to look along the length of the lake. Song Thrushes and Robins sung from the hillside and three Griffon and two Black Vultures cruised the escarpment. One of the Blacks even perched up and looked fine through the scope although I would not actually like to guess the distances involved!
|Panta de Gorg Blau|
Cormorants were the only birds on the lake itself and a Grey Wagtail flitted alongside. Continuing on, we soon came to the Cuber Reservoir but the visibility was deteriorating and nothing was added but it was a fine place to sit for lunch with a view.
The wiggly road continued westwards with occasional stops to take in the views, albeit briefly for fear of losing an extremity. One such stop had signs up about ‘Big Game Hunting’ and the attempt to eradicate Coatimundis that have been released! The usual suite of species were encountered but once again it was the wall of sound from countless Song Thrushes that mesmerised me and yet only one or two were seen. I presume that these are wintering birds here but with so little other sound it was spellbinding.
|Narrow-leaved Mock Privet Phillyrea angustifolia looks like a tiny black olive|
|Asparagus albus with sharp thorns|
|Port de Soller|
|Cloud pouring down the mountain|
From here we dropped down the mountains to sealevel and on hitting the Ma11 I turned north to Port de Soller. The journey across had not taken as long as I hoped due to the inclement weather so with time to utilise we went for another coffee in this delightful harbour resort. Like everywhere else it was deserted but we found a nice cafe alongside the river into the sea and could watch the Yellow-legged Gulls and an obliging Shag from the warm interior.
|Port de Soller|
|Shag - Barry Jackson|
Some House Sparrows came mumping once we were back outside and below us on the river about 60 graceful Crag Martins were careening up and down catching invisible insects.
Three House Martins were with them too and White Wagtails and a Common Sandpiper bobbed their respective tails along the margins.
|Best I could do with the Crags in pant light!|
I decided to continue along the Ma10 as it hugged the coast passing through amazing twisted ancient olive groves and the lovely hillside town of Deia with its literary links before a sign lured me to descend down to the little village of Port de Valldermossa. Let’s just say that the zig-zag road could be described as interesting, narrow and challenging or possibly just terrifying but I made it down to the quay to stretch our legs and get sprayed on by the sea and to get some superb views along the rugged coast. The drive back up was just as much fun.
|Port de Valldermossa|
This was to be our last stop; the weather was properly closing in and so we decided to head to the airport in Palma early for our 9pm flight home. All went well and we touched down not long before midnight and were home by one to a eight inch covering of snow with more already descending from the leaden skies after a lovely four days spent with good friends.